Will Rangers mount an instant assault on the SPL?

8

It has been an emotional four years packed with highs and
lows, but finally Rangers Football Club are back where they belong: the
Scottish Premiership.
The relief at making it back to the top flight after the
implosion of 2011/12 is palpable, and yet there is a sense of expectation
around Ibrox. Can Mark Warburton’s side maintain a serious challenge for the title
this season?
Few are blown away by Celtic at the moment, and while their
league triumph of 2015/16 was comfortable enough in the end, having lost just
four matches, there were clear vulnerabilities. A goals conceded ratio of
nearly one per game is hardly befitting of champions, and the manner in which
they were defeated not once but twice by an upwardly mobile but limited Aberdeen side raises
further doubts about their defensive quality.

Those fears raised their head once again in the Hoops’
remarkable 0-1 loss to Gibraltar’s finest, the
Lincoln Red Imps, in
Champions League qualifying just the other day. This was no fluke as the Imps
were good value for their win, and despite Brendan Rodgers’ assertions to the
contrary, being beaten by a semi-professional team that features policemen,
mechanics and convicted criminals amongst their ranks is very much
‘embarrassing’. Rodgers is yet to invest in any defensive reinforcements this
summer, and that could be a disastrous oversight.
Aberdeen,
after such a bright start to the last campaign, finished the season in second
having suffered eleven defeats and returning a goal difference of just +14, and
a potentially exhausting Europa League campaign could stretch their already
thin squad to its limits this time around.
All of the above makes very nice reading for Gers’ fans.
The squad that Mark Warburton inherited upon taking over at
Ibrox was one of youthful prospects and wily old pros who, with goodwill
intended, were coming up to the end of their respective careers. The job that
the former Brentford boss has done then in transforming this current crop into
a well-balanced squad of players with a chance of challenging for domestic
honours this term has been nothing short of outstanding.
It is always good having talented young players amongst your
ranks – they tend to play without fear, as witnessed by their performance in
the 2-2 draw with Celtic in the cauldron atmosphere of Hampden Park
in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final. Be under no illusions, they will have
learnt a lot that day and will be an improved unit because of it the next time
that the Old Firm derby rolls around.
The likes of Martyn Waghorn, James Tavernier and Jason Holt
have been supplemented smartly by Warburton this summer with older heads in
Joey Barton, Clint Hill, Matt Gilks and Nico
Kranjcar
, and with Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller returning for another crack
at the big time the balance between youth and experience looks just about
right.
If he can keep his discipline in the midfield battleground
then the signing
of Barton
looks particularly smart. He has always looked a better player
when motivated by a specific challenge: that was certainly the case at Burnley last season, where he played an integral part in
the Clarets’ ascension to the English top flight. Indeed, the 40 appearances he
made suggest there are still plenty of miles left in the 33-year-old’s legs.
At the other end of the age spectrum Jordan Rossiter has
been brought in from Liverpool, and the
19-year-old was highly thought of amongst the club’s youth coaches; comparisons
to Xabi Alonso were generous, but still indicative of his
potential nonetheless. Having represented England at all youth levels, it is
fair to say that Warburton has landed a fantastic free signing there.
“The Man with the Magic Hat”
After a few Bears’ famous video which went viral, ‘Warburton is magic, he wears a magic hat…’ became common nature, and it is
certainly accurate enough given the former city trader’s fantastic CV in his
short stint as a football manager. 
Here is a guy who took Brentford, a traditionally unpopular
footballing outpost for the past few decades, and turned them into a
progressive, attractive side, achieving promotion from League One in his first
term as manager and – had he not effectively been sacked halfway through the
next season after club owner Mathew Benham confirmed he planned to replace
Warburton at the end of the campaign – who knows what the Bees, sixth in the
Championship table at the time of the infamous media leak, could have achieved. 
He has impressed in his year to date at the helm, and there
is a feeling around Ibrox and beyond that his penchant for back-to-back
successes could well pave the way for a Rangers tilt at the Scottish
Premiership title this term.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I fully believe if we can sort out our defence we will win the title this year, if not we will get 4th at best.

  2. We are not going into this league to finish anywhere but 1st fuck them all, forget about any boycott get behind the team and roar them onto 55 it's going to taste oh so sweet

  3. All jibes at the obsessed aside I don't think the Celtic result last week would be in any way a yard stick to measure their performance over a season, be nice if it was all the same.

  4. Just the fact that we are in a position to challenge for the title is UNBELIEVABLE. And I'll go one further i BELIEVE we will win it it. I don't expect to win it as that's not fair on the team or management I just believe we will. Big thanks to Dave King. Warbs gets all the credit and rightly so but let's not forget who put him there. So glad we have Rangers men in charge. So glad to have our club back. The fans are buzzin and are now getting their rewards for being the best fans in the world.

    Let's go for 55. No surrender. WARP

  5. I hope fervently we win the league but lets just sit back & enjoy it for a bit,
    The team just seem to be getting better & I cant wait to judge us against better teams
    I dont think we should fear anyone & with BARTON in that dressing room I cant see him making sure they dont,
    The majority of new players have all played in better quality games & I dont think the SPL will worry any of them,
    And TBH if you cannot get yourself up for an OF game you have no right to be there,
    So I for 1 am really lookin forward to this season and lets just see how it unfolds, there is no pressure on us so Enjoy!!

  6. Worst thing supporters can do is expect too much too soon – don't want to bury the manager or the players with expectation. Hearts in particular look to be in good shape and I imagine Aberdeen will still be in the mix. Qualifying for Europe will be a highly successful season and any silverware an extra bonus.

    That said given the fixture list no reason why Warburton cannot have the charges top after the first 6 games (I fully expect this to be the case) – Aberdeen, Hearts and Celtic all play each other and Celtic will have only played 5 games by the time everyone else will have played 6.

    Sitting top at that stage would be something to really kick on from – just have to look at Leicester City last season – strong start was the platform compared to their last challengers Spurs collecting 3 points from their first 4 games.

  7. I wouldn't expect anything but a fully determined effort and the fans can help by not going too far in expectations and making it too obvious so creating extra, and unnecessary, pressure. The team must hit the ground running, there's a couple of positional problems to be sorted and Barton to be controlled otherwise he'll spend a lot time suspended as the SFA will relish punishing him.

  8. do any of you expect any sort of help from the powers that be anyways a good start both edinburgh back stabbers out of europe already hahahahaha and a combined s.a.s and lincolns red agg. off 4-0 was pleasing espcially on 12th where iwas walking belfast couldnt write it anyway as far as fairness goes no chance well be lucky to get nothing this year especially with budge and lawell getting appointed we will just have to grin and bear it already we are being made to play 4 games in a 9 day period that seems fair i dont think but then thats scottish rebel football for you ,as for barton hes a marked man be like gazza they will all want his autograph in their wee book all we can hope for is that rangers play like we did against dundee in the cup and suprise the hell out of most of them ,anyways remember this if the arabs do get promotion back to spl i wonder if it will be first thing on national news that night ermmmm i dont think so

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